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MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. Ukraine’s military activity ahead of the trilateral Contact Group meeting in Minsk, Belarus, on Wednesday signals Kiev’s intention to undermine the peace process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.
"Unfortunately, it is difficult to interpret this [Kiev’s military activity before the Contact Group meeting] otherwise than an attempt to derail the Minsk agreements," Lavrov said after talks with his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz in Moscow.
Moscow insists that the Minsk agreements are "the commitments of Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk reached with the participation of Russia, Germany and France and backed by the EU, the US and other countries that need to be implemented in full," he stressed.
Lavrov expressed hope that additional steps would be made on ensuring progress in implementation of Minsk package on the Ukrainian settlement as was agreed during the recent phone conversation between the Normandy Four countries leaders.
"The implementation of Russia’s proposal for setting up working subgroups of the Contact Group is aimed at this," he said.
The Russian foreign minister reminded that the first meeting of four subgroups on the issues of security, political process, economy and humanitarian aspects of the crisis will be held in Minsk during the Contact Group meeting.
"All this is very important and this should go forward in parallel," he said.
Russia "expects that the actions taken now to strengthen the ceasefire regime will also produce a result and possibly, we will hear some news after tomorrow’s meeting in Minsk," Lavrov said.
He also said Europe understands that Kiev’s economic blockade of Donbass is unacceptable.
Lavrov also noted that Moscow and Vienna demand that all the provisions of the Minsk agreements should be implemented in full without exception.
"We paid special attention to the situation in Ukraine," Lavrov said.
"We presume that there is an absolute necessity that all the provisions of the Minsk agreements should be implemented without exception. Such effort cannot be carried out and will bring no result without a direct dialogue of Kiev with Donetsk and Lugansk and without solving the most pressing humanitarian issues," he said.
In his turn, Kurz said Austria is convinced that the implementation of the Minsk agreements is a chance for overcoming the crisis. "Minsk is a basis for further actions," he added.
The leaders of the Normandy format countries - French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - discussed the Ukraine situation during their telephone conversation on April 30 and agreed on the need to hold meetings of working subgroups of the Contact Group on Ukraine as soon as possible.
The Contact Group on the Ukraine crisis settlement held a meeting in Minsk on February 12 and signed a document approved by the leaders of the Normandy format countries, prioritizing a ceasefire between the conflicting sides in east Ukraine, the pullout of heavy armaments from the engagement line and measures for the political settlement of the crisis, including the creation of working subgroups.
The working subgroups will focus on four priority areas: economic issues and the restoration of facilities; refugees, internally displaced persons and humanitarian assistance; political issues and security.